Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, failed to appear before the judge of the Federal High Court Abuja, Justice Folashade Giwa to answer to explain his role in the alleged approval of N2.5billion to Pinnacle Communications Ltd.
Naija News learnt that the money was for the purpose of the Federal Government Digital Switch Over (DSO) project.
The sitting was said to be the continuation of the trial of the Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Modibbo, Pinnacle Communications Ltd, and two others.
Mohammed was listed by the ICPC prosecution counsel, Henry Umore as an additional witness to give testimony on the approval of payment of N2.5 billion to Pinnacle.
However, after calling two witnesses, the prosecution counsel told the court that the minister who is yet to be reappointed as the minister of information into the yet-to-be constituted cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari was not in court.
Umore said that Mohammed had travelled out of the country but was expected back in the country on or before July 31.
In addition, the court was told that Mohammed made his statement before the ICPC.
The prosecution counsel also informed the court that the other witness he wished to call, was still in Saudi Arabia.
However, Alex Izinyon, SAN, counsel to Onifade Oladipupo, (2nd defendant), and Lucky Omoluwa (3rd defendant), told the court that he had already filed an application to oppose the list of additional witness filed by the prosecution counsel.
A witness called by the ICPC alleged that the former minister refused to make statement to the ICPC, and claimed that he needed to get clearance from the Secretary to Government of the Federation before he could make statements.
Daily Post reports that upon cross-examination by Izinyon, a prosecution witness Olugbemi Abraham, told the court that “during investigation, we could not interview Mohammed because he said he needed clearance from the Secretary to Government of the Federation.”
Abraham, however, revealed that they later took a statement from Mohammed during the pendency of the case.
He admitted that, “Really, we did not bother to get in touch with the SGF to enable him allow the former Information Minister to make statement.”
“Under further cross examination by Amah Etuwewe, counsel to the fourth defendant (Pinnacle Communications), the witness said upon investigation, they did not value the facility put in place by Pinnacle at the Abuja DSO site.
“Further more, the witness admitted that the N2.5 billion was released under the supervision of the former Information Minister.
“To the best of my knowledge, the Presidency that released the N10billion to the NBC for the purpose of DSO has not complained of how the fund was used.
“I am not aware if the former Minister had withdrawn his approval.”
Meanwhile, Justice Giwa, has adjourned the case until July 1, for ruling on a motion by the 2nd and 3rd defendants who are also seeking the release of their international passports to enable them travel abroad for official functions.
Source: Naija News